Being a good ally is better than losing Turkey

Published 13.08.2018 21:57

An improvement in the U.S.' harsh policy on Turkey is likely to prompt Ankara to reciprocally normalize its approach to Washington

Why would a country risk losing an ally? The only rational reason may be to play a bigger role in the global game; however, if we use the metaphor of the U.S. playing chess on a big chessboard of international politics, one has to question who Washington is playing against. The problem is that no one has been able to decipher who the U.S.' main rival is. There are, of course, countries opposing American policies, but none of them may be considered an equal rival of the U.S. On one side of the chessboard, we have U.S. President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the rulers of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, while on the other side, we have all other nations and countries.

Moreover, nobody has been able to identify what the U.S.' expectations about the future of the international system are. If we look at Trump's closest allies, we may think the U.S.' main rival is Russia. Nevertheless, Trump keeps saying that the U.S.' main enemy is Iran and its main rival is China.So, one would expect the U.S. to develop a policy for containing the Chinese threat. But how would a beefed-up alliance with Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia achieve that? We know that China has not yet established a threatening presence in the eastern Mediterranean region. Under these circumstances, the real winner is Russia because Trump's every action and decision is indirectly serving Russian interests. For example, when Trump is putting pressure on one country, the latter leans toward stronger relations with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin is watching Trump's every step and wasting no time contacting the countries Trump pushes away.

The Trump administration is perhaps not playing chess but a whole different game that consists on getting to the finish line as soon as possible. The problem is nobody knows where the finish line is or where the American strategy is headed. Is Trump preparing for a whole new international system, an American hegemony or a third world war?

We do know Trump's short-term expectations. For example, he wants to win the midterm elections in November as he needs to preserve the Republican majority in Congress. It seems he does not care about losing Turkey, as well. However, many people in the U.S. do not approve of Trump's foreign policy. We also know there are many people who genuinely want Trump to leave the White House as soon as possible – via impeachment if necessary.

In this climate, Trump has decided to punish Turkey by pushing it into an economic crisis. We do not know, however, what the U.S. will gain if Turkey is in economic turmoil. Besides, it is more difficult for Turkey now to send pastor Andrew Brunson back to the U.S. because Trump's pressure has only aggravated the situation. Trump will not be able to say he saved the pastor any time soon; as a consequence, Turks will become poorer. Maybe a poorer Turkey will be seen by Trump as a country easier to pressure. However, he must also know that every country has the right to resist pressure and seek out new allies.

If the U.S. has decided to lose Turkey, how this is going to serve U.S. interests? It is true that Turkey will suffer more in the crisis with the U.S., but Turkey's losses do not mean U.S. gains; especially as we know there are many players inside and outside of Turkey who expect the latter to cut all ties with the West.

The U.S. administration must know that most Turks believe the current economic problems are the result of American manipulation. If certain circles in the U.S. think Turkish citizens will protest against their government because of the economic difficulties, they are mistaken. Winning over Turkey is much easier and less costly than losing it. If the U.S. decides to change its methods, Turkey will more easily and favorably respond to Trump's demands.

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